Home Archives July 2007 Historic Oregon tannery shuts down

Historic Oregon tannery shuts down

| Print |  Email
Sunday, July 01, 2007

{safe_alt_text}

DALLAS — Lisa Koloen hoped to see her daughter keep alive the family’s tannery but instead came to a hard realization. “Being a historic place doesn’t pay the bills,” says Koloen.

Muir & McDonald Co., the oldest of three remaining tanneries in the United States employing a traditional vegetable tanning method, will close its doors this summer after 144 years in the business. The tannery supplies leather to saddle makers in Louisiana and Texas and until now has defended its title as the oldest continuously running business in Polk County.

The vegetable method the tannery uses requires a four-month process that allows the tanner to start and end with one piece of hide, compared to other processes that can finish in hours. But the tannery kept with tradition, even until the very end.

The decision to close was a difficult five-year process, says Koloen, company president and the fourth generation of tanners at Muir. “The confusing and crazy part,” Koloen says, was that “the tannery had a lot of orders.” Despite demand, the rising cost of production for a small tannery operating in a world market combined with an unwieldy utility bill for the company’s 40,000-square-foot building forced the tannery to close down. “I love this business,” Koloen says. “This has been our life.”

Koloen worked at the tannery as a child, sweeping floors and painting fences. She remembers growing up and seeing the town’s businesses spring up around the tannery.

Koloen won’t be out of the leather industry for long. When she and her husband finish their current orders in the next few months, she’ll start with another vegetable-method tannery based in Pennsylvania, which has stayed afloat by employing more upgraded and progressive techniques.

— Eunice Lee


Have an opinion? E-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

Comments   

 
P.T. Dessero
0 #1 P.T. Dessero 2011-09-17 20:05:48
I bought leather sides fron this Tannery back in the 79's and 8o's. This company made one of the best leathers I used. I am sorry to hear this. I am retired now but still know people who are new in this business. I would like to be informed when they start there new adventure. I can be reached at email below.
Your truly
P.T.Dessero
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Guest
0 #2 Muir & McDonaldGuest 2012-08-18 23:19:24
Hello P.T. Dessero,

Both Lisa Koloen and Eldon Bevens passed away within the last two years. The Tannery is still in the process of being sold and likely demolished. Sad end to an era.
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Guest
+1 #3 RE: Historic Oregon tannery shuts downGuest 2013-01-13 02:36:56
I am living in the Kansas City aarea - but am from Monmouth-Dallas area. Have a nice new belt buckle that needs a belt - the custom shop here is a big fan of Muir McDonald, and has a small stash of leather that he thinks we can make into a nice belt. Sad this has come to an end.
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Guest
0 #4 BeltGuest 2013-01-13 04:12:13
Glad to know that there is still a bit of leather out there being used. I hope you get a great belt out of it!
Quote | Report to administrator
 
 
Guest
0 #5 Looking for the new shopGuest 2013-03-03 03:08:24
Does anyone know if these folks opened a new shop?
Quote | Report to administrator
 

More Articles

Small business sales go big

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014

BY BRANDON SAWYER

Sales of small businesses surged in 2013 according to the biggest Internet marketplace of such transactions, BizBuySell, increasing to 7,056 reported sales, a 24% increase over 2012, when they dropped 7%. Portland Metro sales tracked by the site grew 9% to 73, capping three years of solid growth. On top of that, Portland’s median sale price jumped 67% to $250K, versus just 13% to $180K nationally. Portland was one of just six metros tracked where the median sale price matched the median asking price, with sellers getting, on average, 92% of what they asked.

BTNMarch14 tableBTNMarch14 line


BTNMarch14 piePDXBTNMarch14 pieUSA


Read more...

Powerlist: Meeting perspectives

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014

BY BRANDON SAWYER

A conversation about the event-planning industry with sales directors from McMenamins and the Portland Art Museum. 


Read more...

Workplace benefits

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Health care and vacations rule. That’s the consensus from our reader poll on workplace benefits that help retain and recruit employees.


Read more...

Green your workplace

News
Thursday, April 03, 2014
100Green14logo200oxBY OB STAFF

Learn how to green your workplace and lower your environmental footprint at the office. Oregon Business presents a two-hour "Greening Your Workplace" seminar on May 28th, 2014 at the Nines Hotel in Portland.


Read more...

How to handle the unexpected

Contributed Blogs
Friday, March 28, 2014
03.28.14 thumb disasterBY TOM COX | OB BLOGGER

The next mysterious (or disastrous) event could be one that you or your team might suddenly need to respond to, probably under intense scrutiny.


Read more...

From the Editor: The human factor

March 2014
Tuesday, February 25, 2014

In this issue, we celebrate our 21st annual 100 Best Companies to Work For in Oregon project.


Read more...

Are millennials reshaping politics in the Pacific Northwest?

News
Wednesday, April 02, 2014

MillennialsThumbA new report explores the impact of millennials on Oregon's business and political climate.


Read more...
Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02
SPONSORED LINKS